At a time when several states are considering gas stimulus checks and other tax rebates to help residents offset rising gas prices and the prices of other commodities, the Minnesota governor favors sending direct aid to those in need. Gov. Tim Walz first proposed the idea of Minnesota stimulus checks earlier this year. Though the proposal isn’t final yet, we now have more details on the direct payment, popularly called as “Walz checks.”
Minnesota Stimulus Checks: What Is It?
Last week, Walz announced the state’s revised budget proposal that calls for giving a direct payment of $500 to single tax filers and $1,000 for married couples. This revised budget proposal follows a budget forecast in late February that estimates a $9.25 billion surplus, which is $1.5 billion more than the budget forecast in December.
“With a historic surplus, we have an opportunity to provide direct relief to Minnesotans and invest in the future of our state. Amid global economic uncertainty, direct payments are one of the best ways to make it easier for Minnesotans to pay their bills,” Walz said.
If the proposal is approved, more than 2.7 million households will get Minnesota stimulus checks. Under the proposal, $500 would go to individuals making less than $164,400 annually and $1,000 to couples with income less than $273,470.
It would cost about $2 billion to send the Minnesota stimulus checks. The check amount (of $500 and $1,000) proposed now is about three times more than what Walz proposed earlier this year.
Rising inflation and gas prices have encouraged some state legislators to propose a summer gas tax holiday. Specifically, Democrats are proposing a tax holiday, while Republicans are backing a tax cut. Walz, however, is sticking with his proposal to send direct payments, but says that he would sign a gas tax holiday if the state Legislature were to approve it.
"I think this money in the hands of folks before summer would make a good difference. And it’s fiscally responsible,” Walz told reporters.
Revised Budget Proposal: What More Does It Include?
Apart from the Minnesota stimulus checks, the revised budget proposal includes many other provisions as well. For instance, it calls for a $73 million investment to help offset the “inflationary pressures faced by the retirees on Minnesota public pension plans.” The proposal also sets aside $20 million for the Main Street Economic Revitalization program.
Moreover, the budget proposal also recommends investment in Small Business Partnership grants, as well as sets aside $9 million for “sophisticated cybersecurity defense layers.” Further, the proposal calls for 23.5 million ongoing investments in the public health system at all levels (state, local and tribal) and an investment of $115 million in emergency shelter services.
The proposal also recommends investing about $215 million over a period of three years to recruit and retain frontline workers. Among other things, the revised proposal also carries a provision to buy a new helicopter for the Minnesota State Patrol.